Pilates for Bone Health
What is osteoporosis?
Many of our clients come to us with varying degrees of bone density loss. Osteoporosis is when the dynamic tissue of the bone becomes porous, causing the bone to weaken and become brittle. Once the bone is weakened, a fall or even mild stress on bone like bending over or coughing can cause a fracture. Fractures are most common in the hip, wrist, and spine. While anyone can contract osteoporosis, the disease is most common in women over 50.
Studies have shown that exercise is important for osteoporosis prevention. Since falls are the major cause of injury, alignment and balance are key areas to work on. Alignment is the principal focus of pilates, therefore it can be an effective tool to help prevent and manage osteoporosis.
Areas on which to focus in Pilates:
With osteoporosis, the areas that need the most strengthening are the hip, spine, and wrists. Most pilates exercises specifically target these areas, especially the core. It is also good to focus on strengthening the back and shoulders, hips, and deep core muscles to take pressure off the spine. Those diagnosed with osteoporosis should always work in neutral and pay special attention to proper alignment. It is important to incorporate standing exercises into the workout, as the bones need vertical force in order to rebuild. Some excellent exercises for osteoporosis include:
- Footwork on the reformer
- Exercises in four-point kneeling, such as swimming prep and leg-pull front prep (with special attention to maintain neutral spine)
- Side-lying exercises to strengthen the hip
- Abdominal exercises lying on the back such as toe taps, single leg stretch, and double leg stretch (always with the head down!)
- Standing exercises on the Tower or Cadillac, such as lat pull and other shoulder and back exercises with springs.
Movements to avoid:
While pilates can be a great way to manage osteoporosis, there are some common movements in pilates which should be avoided.
- Flexion in a supine position, such as curling up in the hundred or ab prep. Flexion is when the upper body is curled up off the mat, as in a sit-up.
- Flexion coupled with side bending and rotation
It is also necessary to add brisk walking or another cardio aspect to your workouts. If balance is not an issue, jumping rope is great for osteoporosis. Cardiovascular exercise will improve cardiovascular health as well as stimulate the bones. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and are looking to develop a pilates-based exercise program, call us to schedule an appointment. We also have ongoing Pilates mat and reformer classes throughout the week to suit your schedule.
Betz, Sherri, PT. http://www.therapilates.com/PDF/modifyingpilates.pdf
If you have Medicare take a look at this link that provides helpful information about insurance coverage for Osteoporosis.